Understanding Your W-2 Statement

Employees often call Payroll Services believing that their W-2 Form doesn't match their yearly gross wages. Below are the most common guidelines to help you understand your 2017 W-2 Statement, and the correlation between the different boxes on the W-2 and your actual gross pay on your check stubs.

The wages listed in Box 3 are your Taxable Social Security Wages, which for calendar year 2017 has a maximum taxable wage of $127,200. The wages listed in Box 5 are your Taxable Medicare Wages; no cap applies to these wages. These wages can differ from your actual gross pay due to various benefits and pre-tax deductions. Below is a sample calculation:

Gross pay on check stubs (Jan. - Dec. 2017) $45,000.00
Less pre-tax benefit deductions (Jan. - Dec. 2017)

Medical insurance

Dental insurance $196.92
Flexible spending $200.00
Dependent care $500.00
Parking $470.04
Social Security and Medicare taxable wages (on W-2) $43,343.45

The wages in Box 1 and Box 16 are considered to be your Federal and State Taxable Wages, which you would report on your Federal and State Tax Returns. To arrive at the figures for Box 1 and Box 16, employees should take the Social Security and Medicare Taxable Wage total above and subtract your deductions for Retirement (403b and 457 Plans). Below is a sample calculation:

Social Security and Medicare taxable wages (on W-2) $43,813.49
Less retirement deductions (Jan. - Dec. 2017) $4,500.00
Federal and State taxable wages (on W-2) $38,843.49


The information necessary to make these calculations for your specific history is available in Banner Self-Service. Under the Employee tab, click on the links for Pay Information-Earnings History and Deduction History.

If you have questions about your W-2, please e-mail your question, along with your Banner ID and phone number, to payroll@list.slu.edu.

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